Positive Social Media Experience – Instagram

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

I am genuinely passionate about writing. There is nothing comparable to the terrifying yet freeing feeling of putting your raw truth out for public inspection. I can handle the risk of judgement or rejection because I know that so many others need to understand that no matter how dark the moment may seem, there is always hope to be found. Breaking the silence about the harsh parts of our shared human experience is critically important so we can all be reminded that it’s not just us. That we are not broken. That we are never ever alone.

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

However the challenge that I face as a blogger is that as much as I adore writing, I can’t turn these posts around in 5 or 10 minutes. They take a good chunk of time for me to compose, and I only seem to find that time somewhere between 11pm and 2am. Sadly that doesn’t jive so well with my 5am wake-up call and kids / work / life keep me jammed for the other waking hours.

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

Furthermore the blogging community is so interactive that I remain in a perpetual state of feeling tremendously guilty about my inability to read 99.9% of the other bloggers’ posts including those written by my closest friends. I absolutely love reading all of them – truly. But I simply can’t keep up, and it makes me feel like a literary toolbag.

Posted by a clever young photographer (my daughter) @dragondaydreamer on Instagram

But then there’s Instagram. Although there are innumerable posts each day, you go through copious information in a few quick minutes. It’s much easier to support more of the community while leaving quick positive comments encouraging others forward. Like all social media, you can stumble into a dark bummer of a depressed you have serious daddy-issues kind of rabbit hole, but you can also kick that off your feed in two seconds once you recognize it.

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

And on that note, please trust me when I tell you to stick with the happy, the amazing, and the educational. Don’t focus on the yuck and definitely don’t feed on the unhappy. Aim for the feel goods and the awe-inspiring. Put more good in to get more good out.

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

While I took up photography a few short months ago, I have found myself absolutely smitten with it and always end up focusing on the nerdiest of subjects. (No, not fanboys. I prefer to marry those.) In the world of photography, I’m a nature nerd all the way. And much like writing, it makes me smile, soothes my soul, and appears to do the same for others in need of a mental respite from the racetrack of daily life.

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

Although I will continue to write whenever I can find the time, I sincerely hope to see you on Instagram in the gaps in between. If you are already there, please look me up! I would love to support your work. And if you need tips on how to get started, let me know that, too. I would be happy to send along some tips for that as well.

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

Best wishes and hugs to all of you!

Jo Price – Instagram ID @texasbirdnerd

Posted by @texasbirdnerd on Instagram

***All photos and writing contained herein are the sole property of the photographer / author. Use is prohibited without express written permission of the photographer / author. (c) 2018 – Jo Price Photography

Pause a Moment to Take a Closer Look

world of wonder - IG

I believe that landing a lovely photograph is strikingly similar to getting to know the people around us. There is such spectacular beauty to be found if only we are willing to pause a moment and take a closer look. We constantly seek to be shown the wonders of the world, but they are already at our fingertips.

bumble bee - IGTake the smallest amount of time to notice the magic that is woven into each day that you live. Look for the beauty everywhere you go and in everyone you meet. Every shot you take may not be what you hoped for, but every now and then, your willingness to give a little extra effort will leave you absolutely awestruck.

Big hugs to all.  Jo

bumble bee 2 - IG

Turn the Focus to Nature Photography and Turn Down the Travel Anxiety

black skimmer - IG

It’s no secret that I don’t do well when I have to travel solo. Despite my issues, my company is located out of state, so solo travel lands on my calendar multiple times a year. In order to redirect my nervous energy this past week, I opted for a series of random after workday adventures. A couple of those days included the coolest of activities. Happy hour? Chillin’ with my team at the bars? Dancing the night away?

snowy egret seafood - IG with logoOooooh nooooo. Think cooler. Much much cooler. That’s right.

Nature. Photography.

Aaaaaah yes. Haters gonna hate, but I couldn’t stop the unmitigated badassness that came with lugging around a lens so ridiculous that it made my forearms ache to hold it. As an added bonus, I was able to respond to inquiries from curious passersby who repeatedly asked, “Do you get incredible photos with that camera?” with my sly response of “It’s a hit and miss given that my limited camera knowledge is derived from the patient people at Canon customer support and Google.”

landing - IG

I told you. Mad. Skills. My anxiety faded away as my native nerdiness returned to the forefront. But it made me happy, and it did calm me down. I send heartfelt thank yous to the many California locals who suggested several beautiful places for capturing lovely nature shots and to those who pointed me in the right direction once I arrived.

seal in la jolla - IGKindness is so very powerful. We often don’t realize that the people around us are struggling deeply, and the smallest of benevolent gestures can mean more than we could ever know.

As is the norm, I actually had a wonderful week. Despite a few questionable moments (to be discussed later), I survived relatively unscathed. And now I’m home once more. Back to Texas. Back to my people.

Back to me.

osprey - IG

Big hugs to you all!  Jo

*My instagram ID is @texasbirdnerd for any other nature photo nerds. Find me so I can see your pics, too. Those always make me smile.  🙂

acorn woodpeckers - IG

***I would love to know what you do to take down the stress level when you are feeling overwhelmed. Feel free to tag your relevant posts in the comments, but keep in mind that this is a family show. Please keep it G / PG rated. Sorry, but I don’t need to read any of your PG-13 and above ideas.  😉

 

Dog Tired

beach puppy - bandw with logo

I would like to write about the day, but frankly it’s been rather long and I’m tapped out. Neverthless I wanted to wrap up the last day of the black & white (ish) photo challenge courtesy of my dear friend Ms. Leeds at https://authentically50.wordpress.com/. Her blog is a reflection of her true beauty and loving wisdom.

I also wanted to send a shout out to https://ceenphotography.com/. If you love the inspiration that can be found in creative challenges, you will adore Cee’s site. The site is absolutely worth the visit regardless as Cee’s talent is without question.  I highly recommend your checking it out. 🙂

For day 7 of the challenge, I am tagging my wonderful blogging companion at https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/. I have long suspected that she is a wiser and calmer future me (thus why most comments to this rockstar will reference that designation). Dear future me – you are the caboose in this challenge, but you always lead the way in every other moment. Thank you for the giggles, the kindness, and the grace you exemplify. You are wonderful!

Hugs to all!  Jo

Is Our Parenting Style a Model of Dysfunction or a Reflection of a Normal Family?

We parent loudly. To be more clear, we yell. A lot. While I imagine that it would be wonderful to have more patience, I also know that my kids can be stinkers and oh em gee how many times did I already ask you to put away your personal mountain o’ laundry???

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad to be mostly okay with your personal family dysfunction, and what’s even worse is that I’m not fully confident that it actually is full-out dysfunction. Sometimes I think that we are raising our children to be permanent residents of Crazy town but then I get a peek into other people’s family lives. Based on those glimpses, it seems to me that everyone has their own version of weird.

My husband is from a family of master artists in the media of quiet anger coupled with overt passive aggression. My own family has always opted for outright hostility and total overreaction. Our approach is to get furiously mad but then get over it fairly quickly and move on down the road. As I won the parenting style debate, the screamy mom and dad approach in our household was adopted and has been in place for years.

At times I have worried that our open lack of patience would damage our children’s psyche as well as their hearing, but I have since recognized that public school and the local news will mess with their them far more effectively that we ever could.

We always try to become better, wiser, and more patient with each day that passes, and when we screw up, we say sorry and we mean it. Although I have no qualms with embarrassing my kids (in fact, I believe that you are leaving some major parent artillery in the discipline safe if embarrassment isn’t on your options list), but we would never physically harm our children. We aren’t perfect parents, but noise aside, I honestly feel like we do try. I have only had one “wire hangers!!!” meltdown this week, so life can’t be all bad here. We tell our kids that we love them constantly and we do as much as we can to show them that we mean it.

I wonder if this the way it goes in most of the families out there. I wonder if we are building stronger adults who are going to be more responsible or if we are just ensuring that therapists of the world will always have a job as long as my grown kids are around. Only time will tell.

But for now, my kids are asleep in an indoor tent in the living room. Maybe they are dreaming about the fireworks we took then to see this evening, or maybe they are just passed out into oblivion since we let them stay up waaaay too frickin late. All I know is that as much stuff as we get wrong, I think that we often get a lot of that right, too.

You can be critical of some of your shortcomings, but it’s healing to look for the positive side of that story, too. We aren’t perfect at anything, but we don’t tend to be all bad either. Release the guilt for the mistakes and focus on making more of the good stuff the main stuff. When you put more emphasis the positive side of your story, your tale will play out with a brighter tone altogether. Do better whenever you can and celebrate the good always.

Big hugs to you! Jo

*Thank you Janie at https://authentically50.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/7-day-bw-photo-challenge-day-four/ for tagging me to participate in the 7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge (7 days / 7 b&w photos / no people / no explanation / challenge a new person daily)

For day 4 of the challenge, I am tagging my partner in blogging friendship crime Maria at https://renewedhealingarts.wordpress.com. Maria and I have been blogging friends for years and began our new blogs simultaneously earlier this week. It was unplanned as always but that’s how Maria and I have always been on our coinciding random life choices. LLet’ see what you’ve got Maria!  😉

**The photo above was inspired by Cee’s Black & White Photography Challenge specific to birds. https://ceenphotography.com/

Breaking the Silence About Mental Health Struggles

I keep quiet about the pain because if I reveal the truth, people will judge me. I fear the stigma that will exist once someone sees the me – the real me. I don’t want other people to view me differently, to recognize how dark my shadows can run, to know how lost and alone I often feel. I say I’m fine when I’m not, and I put on the smile. But behind the mask of happiness that I wear on the surface, I have spent years struggling with mental health challenges.

The irony of this whole charade is that I now know that countless people around me and around all of us are just pretending that they are okay, too, even when they are clawing to just hold on. Every single time that I write about depression, multiple individuals post comments or send me messages telling me how they feel the same way but don’t talk about it.

We stay silent in an effort to maintain a facade that allows us to assimilate with society. We want to blend into a world full of people, but those same people are playing that “fake it till you make it” game, too. I’m not suggesting that you display every colorful detail of your life for all to see. More to the point – don’t do that. Big time no to that. Your whole story should not be the world’s business. But you should be able to be honest with people whom you trust. You need a genuine support network, and I guarantee you that they need you more than they are saying, too.

I don’t typically delve into my personal experiences with depression, anxiety, or OCD nor do I discuss my sadness regarding people who lose their lives to suicide or my own survival stories. The nightmare stories of my personal mental health challenges aren’t conversations I would ever have at work nor would I bring those topics up casually or at random with anyone else. I am selective about my audience for those kinds of discussions. Admittedly in this moment my selective audience consists of the entire internet, but the odds are high that you can relate to my words if you are still reading. In truth, the odds are high that almost everyone can relate.

Life can be a seriously rough ride at times, and we don’t always know how to react or even how to feel. We don’t receive a “How to be a Human the Right Way” when we are born, but we spend our lives trying to figure out what that even means. There’s no set answer, life is not black and white, and every person you know has struggled with mental health in one form or another at some point in his or her life.

We need to accept that it is okay to not be okay all the time. We can’t keep pretending like nothing is wrong when we need help. We have to speak up, and we need to be honest with each other. The day you reveal your struggles to others is the day that you will discover that you are anything but alone in this.

So even though I do fear the stigma, the judgement, and the misunderstandings, I know that I can’t live my life hiding the person I really am – good or bad, dark or light. I fall down, but I get back up, too. I sometimes feel like I’m drowning, but I know that I will find my way back to the surface again. My lowest points have been the most revealing moments in my life, and while I would not wish those experiences on anyone else, I wouldn’t eradicate them from my personal history either.

Own all parts of your journey. Learn from the falls whenever you find your way back to your feet once more. Search for the meaning in the madness and the calm in the storm. Discover that brave voice within you, and speak up when you can. And if you can’t find a safe place to speak your truth, I’m always happy to listen. Others have been lighthouses to me in my darkest times. I would love to be yours in return.

Much love to you. Jo

*Thank you Janie at https://authentically50.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/7-day-bw-photo-challenge-day-four/ for tagging me to participate in the 7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge (7 days / 7 b&w photos / no people / no explanation / challenge a new person daily)

For day 3 of the challenge, I am tagging my incredible friend and wildly talented artist Lisa at https://playamart.wordpress.com/. The reality is that I have no expectation that Lisa will be available to do the challenge because she eat, sleeps and breathes art and frankly has a million other bigger things happening at this point in her life. However the reason I am tagging her specifically on this post is that Lisa has been an amazing lighthouse in my life for many years. I was blessed to meet Lisa when I first began to write years ago, and I am immeasurably grateful for the light she continues to bestow on my world today. Thank you for your endless kindness and wisdom dear friend!

**The photo above was inspired by Cee’s Black & White Photography Challenge specific to birds. I have become an avid (but absolutely still learning) bird photographer and will frequently use those shots in my posts. Thank you so very much to Cee at https://ceenphotography.com/ for the lovely bird photographs that you shared as well as the beautiful inspiration you gave me!  🙂

The Loneliness of Depression

moon flight

I don’t enjoy writing about depression. My insecurities rise to the surface as my innumerable failings are put on display. I worry that people will read my words and judge me. That I will be seen as weak. Or whiny. Or pathetic. In my mind, I am already giving myself a severe beat down, so sharing my tales to invite more opposing boxers to the ring feels like a seriously foolish idea. No one else could possibly understand the crazy sentiments racing through my mind. No one else could possibly relate.

But that’s entirely untrue. These kinds of feelings are rampant. Countless people face these struggles every single day, and too many of them lose the battle with anxiety and depression. They feel so isolated. Broken. Helpless. Hopeless. They put out the light before the sun has a chance to find its way through the darkness once more.

So even though I am embarrassed to share my struggles, I recognize that someone out there in this moment needs to know that they aren’t alone in theirs. That they aren’t the only ones feeling broken, destroyed, or terminally unworthy of love. That another person is in it, too, and that maybe there’s some chance that it can get better. That holding on is possible, and that sticking around is worth it.

It does get better. It doesn’t stay dark and heavy forever. And you aren’t alone in it.

You are absolutely worthy of love. You are not broken. You can make it through this.

If someone doesn’t get what you are going through, they are luckier than they know. If they judge you for being imperfect, well… definitely don’t sweat that because no one is. And if you feel like you are alone, drop me a line. But whatever you do, please don’t give up.

It won’t stay dark forever, you are stronger than you can imagine, and despite the way you may feel, you are never ever alone.

Big hugs to you.  Jo

***Thanks so much to Nancy Merrill for her clever weekly photo challenge prompt of from below.